Lili Wilkinson is the granddaughter of prominent Scientologists and the daughter of non-religious parents, Wilkinson said she grew up “adjacent to some strange beliefs”, which inspired her newest anti-cult novel, The Boundless Sublime.
Wilkinson, the author of several famous books including Scatterheart, Pink and Green Valentin, went through all the different research and I’d done and picked the weirdest and strangest and creepiest parts to create a new book about religious cult. She said there’s a lot of messiahs (out there) and I didn’t want to do that.she plans to created a new religion of her own.
（The Cover of the book）
The end result was The Institute of the Boundless Sublime. After reading a biography of infamous cult leader Charles Manson, Wilkinson found that a lot of his recruitment strategy was gleaned from the iconic self-help book How to Win Friends and Influence People, aiming at people who were broken but still looking for answers,” she said.
Fox, the character she creates in her novel was closely based on 90s film star River Phoenix, who was raised in the Children of God cult, who is soulful and concerned about the world but such a mess, such a broken person.
The Boundless Sublime aims to show that “the idea of happiness and being at peace with the world will always come from within,” Wilkinson said. In addition, it explores that people are supposed to be prudent to make self-decision instead of trusting his own instincts. In the lead up to the release of the book, Ms Wilkinson started a video series called Lets Talk About Sects introducing different kinds of cults, which puts her researches into good use.
About the Book:
A gripping YA novel about an ordinary girl who is seduced into a modern-day cult. Ruby Jane Galbraith is empty. Her family has been torn apart and it's all her fault. The only thing that makes sense to her is Fox - a gentle new friend who is wise, soulful and clever, yet oddly naive about the ways of the world. He understands what she's going through and he offers her a chance to find peace. Fox belongs to a group called the Institute of the Boundless Sublime - and Ruby can't stay away from him. So she is also drawn into what she discovers is a terrifying, secretive community that is far from the ideal world she expected. Can Ruby find the courage to escape? Is there any way she can save Fox too? And is there ever an escape from the far-reaching influence of the Institute of the Boundless Sublime?
Ø A brilliant, searing trip into the world of cults and brainwashing. Her best book yet.' - Justine Larbalestier..
Ø The recommendation from The Column of Book and Art in ABCNews is as follows.
About the Author
Lili Wilkinson is the award-winning author of ten YA novels, including Scatterheart, Pink and Green Valentine. After studying Creative Arts at the University of Melbourne, Lili established the insideadog.com.au,
My grandfather Jim had an e-meter in his study. To me, it was a box with two tin cans attached to it with wire. To a canny outsider, it would be evidence of sinister cult activity. To Jim, it was a tool for self-enlightenment and helping others.
As a kid, I didn’t realize that having Scientologist grandparents was unusual. To me, Scientology meant interminable lectures from my grandfather that I zoned out of as soon as he started speaking. Scientology was… boring. I remember the first time I went to a Catholic church service – now that I found bizarre.
As a non-religious person, I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of belief. I tried praying once, because it seemed to bring Anne Shirley so much comfort in Anne of Green Gables. It didn’t really do anything for me, so I stuck with reading. As a child I devoured Robin Klein’s People Might Hear You, the chilling story of a girl trapped in a restrictive religious community. I also adored Isobelle Carmody’s The Gathering, which explored the ways people can be manipulated to do terrible things in the name of belief.
When I read Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear in 2014, I realized that, despite having Scientologists in my family, there was so much I didn’t know about it. And I wondered – how much of it had my grandfather known about? At the same time, the media was reporting on the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, which made me think even more about the ways in which faith and trust can be manipulated to achieve dark ends.
So obviously I had to write about it. The original idea was much bigger – a trilogy involving underground cities and international conspiracies. But after a discussion with my editors, I realized that the reason why People Might Hear Youwas so creepy was its setting – a normal suburban house. The idea that there could be a house like that in any street, in any neighbourhood – that was creepy. So the trilogy became a single book, and everything got scaled down and concentrated into one big creepy hot mess.
I’ve read a few books about cults in the past. Robin Klein’s Someone Might Hear You was one of my favourite books as a teen and I more recently read and adored The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes.
The Boundless Sublime blows those other books out of the water.
What sets this book apart is how it shows the entire journey. Where other books show you people desperate to leave these sects, The Boundless Sublime explores why someone might find themselves drawn into such a society.
Ruby is hurting and very angry at the beginning of the book. Her mother has checked out of reality and her family is in pieces. Then she meets Fox. He represents so much of what she wants. He has a family and wants her to join it. And the Institute does appear to have good values on the surface. Clean living, a lack of dependence on possessions and forgiveness for past sins. Ruby isn’t entirely naive to what the Institute may be either. Her best friend tries to tell her she thinks the secretive community may be a cult (complete with yoga and “weird sex stuff”). When Ruby makes the decision to spend more time with Fox and his family at the Institute, she knows what she’s giving up but she is captivated by the Institute’s offer of a better and happier way of living.
The Boundless Sublime is a beguiling and frightening novel. It was scary in just how realistic Ruby’s story was. Her seduction by the Institute was believable and made complete sense – which just made it all the more creepy. The choices Ruby made and her journey felt right even with the foreboding sense that something terrible was going to happen to her. There are twists and turns along the way which keep me guessing right up until the end. It’s a compelling read you won’t want to put down and it will make you look at seemingly harmless things in a completely new light.